How to boost the performance of an F3 race car with Artec Leo

Product: Artec Leo
Industry: Automotive and Transportation

A race car, such as the Dallara F399/01, is the product of decades of engineering advancements. Motors, frames, and materials have all progressed tremendously in order to comply with the technical regulations of motorsports while ramping up performance. In fact, the remarkable breakthroughs already made over the years in race car engineering make it appear as if there’s not much room left for further improvement. At least not without investing a fair amount of financial resources and time. Considering this, what options are possible if someone wants to gain a technical edge over the competition? John Hughes, a postgraduate engineering student at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD), offered up a simple answer: Aerodynamics.

“Every little detail, every little gain you get, is better than nothing. At the moment, we have managed to gain roughly 10 miles an hour in straight line speed, compared to where we started off with the car. Just through aerodynamic development.”

John has been working on the Dallara’s front wing as part of his master’s degree project with another aerodynamics student together with the two owners of the car. Their objective is to get better performance out of the vehicle, currently running in the British Sprint Championship, a prestigious 16 events per season championship held at venues across the United Kingdom. Between events, John and his team have small windows of time for working on the car at the University motor shop, located right next to Swansea’s harbor.

For a while, the team used manual measuring tools to obtain the dimensions of the F3, but the results lacked precision in addition to being time-consuming. They naturally came to the conclusion that they needed a reliable way to get better measurements faster. This is where the idea of 3D scanning technologies entered into their field of view. At first, they tried basic methods of 3D scanning to get a CAD model they could work on, but it still wasn’t precise enough. As soon as they learned about professional 3D scanning solutions, they contacted UK-based Artec 3D Ambassadors Central Scanning, hoping they could provide the results needed. Seeing preliminary scans done with the brand new 3D scanner Artec Leo, John knew he had made the right call. “From looking at what has been captured, the amount of detail, compared to what I’ve seen previously, is second to none. It’s incredible, for what I’ve actually seen produced before,” he said.

Nick Godfrey and Tom White from Central Scanning had preliminarily analyzed the task at hand, and concluded that the Artec Leo would be the best tool for the job. “Leo is capable of capturing medium to large objects very quickly. It doesn’t require any preparation beforehand, and the scanning can be done directly on-site” said Nick. “The scanner is entirely autonomous, which means there are no cables or computers attached to it that limit your movements. We can capture virtually everything more easily than with any other 3D scanning solution.

Leo comes equipped with its own battery, a touch screen that shows the scanning in real time, and saves the data on a memory card that can be subsequently transferred to a computer. Tom scanned the Dallara in the UWTSD motor shop, without the need for any superfluous gear. All in all, the scan of the whole car took less than 2 hours. The scan data was treated on Artec Studio in a day, and a complete CAD model was sent to John a few days later.

It is important to note that in the field of aerodynamics, millimetric changes in the design can go a long way. The Artec Leo boasts an impressive data capture rate of 3 million points per second, with real-time 3D processing displayed directly on its screen. By having the geometry of the entire car digitally scanned with utmost precision, John can run a better computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulation on Ansys, analyzing all the options for fine-tuning the aerodynamic profile of the car from the most realistic 3D model.

“I usually start off by trying to optimize the current component as best as I can without altering the geometry of individual components. For example, the current front wing has multiple elements, such as flaps and winglets. I would study if moving the position of the flaps would enhance the overall performance of the wing,” explained John. “This process can take months to get right. However, it can be sped up with the use of Design of Experiment (DoE) software. Once the original geometry has been optimized, I can then go on and start to develop the original geometry by studying CFD results. Using this method saves on manufacturing time and cost, as I’m trying to maintain as much of the original front wing as possible.”

After the analysis and the design work, the modified parts were sent to Fibre-Lyte, a carbon fiber manufacturer specialized in high-performance sports. With the help of a 3D milling machine, they are able to create cost effective one-off parts that can be repeated, or scaled up, if higher volumes are required.

The manufactured parts have been installed on the race car, and John already began noticing the difference: “We have seen gains in straight line and cornering speeds since modifications began. I created a number of bargeboard design iterations, with each one showing performance improvements. The simulation results show good promise in enhanced performance.”

Startup Exept uses Simcenter Femap with Nastran to develop monocoque frame for road bikes in a virtual environment

Product: Femap
Industry: Consumer Products and Retail

Siemens solution enables EXEPT to go from concept design to product launch in less than a year

Developing the custom monocoque

Until recently any cyclist who wanted to buy a new bicycle had two options: Either purchase one of the big brands with a monocoque frame that is available in a fixed range of sizes with performance based on stiffness by weight, or a tailor-made frame manufactured with the tube-to-tube technique. This kind of bike has tubes that are cut, welded and wrapped with carbon fiber around the joints (knots), with the inevitable drawbacks in stiffness.

Now the Italian startup EXEPT, which is based in Savona, is providing a third way. It has developed a process that combines the benefits of both traditional approaches to create tailor-made monocoque frames. The custom monocoque technique invented by EXEPT uses movable molds to cast monocoque frames without any carbon fiber dis-continuity so it can be made to order for each cyclist.

“The key to economic sustainability in bike production is the cost of tooling,” says Alessandro Giusto, who is the co-founder of the company and the innovation and simulation manager. “A mold may cost up to €50,000 to 60,000, therefore only the big brands can reach volumes large enough to make a mold for each size. Instead, we have developed an innovative technology to build all sizes with one adjustable mold.”

The biggest Italian brand makes 15,000 high-end bikes a year, while EXEPT’s business plan calls for producing up to 3,000 pieces annually in five years.

All-round expertise

The movable mold concept was developed by the three founders and reflects their passion for bicycles. Giusto previously worked at Continental, a global leader in tire manufacturing, and also had experience in aerospace and the design of car-bon components for the sporting goods business. The second business partner, Alessio Rebagliati, is a colleague from Continental, while the third founder, Wolfgang Turainsky, is a German engineer who used to work for a Spanish manufacturer of bike components.

It took two years and two prototyping cycles to make prototypes that proved the feasibility of the custom monocoque process. Prior to being analyzed with simulation and finite element method (FEM) tools, the first frame was given to a former cycling professional for testing. Once the firm received his technical approval, EXEPT presented the project to an investment fund (Focus Futuro), which provided the necessary resources to move on to detailed design, testing and certification.

“The bike was designed from the very start according to the new concept,” Giusto says. “However, we did not focus on car-bon fiber initially, as composite material design is a complex activity that is a full-time job. Once we got the funds to finance our innovative idea, we could quit our previous jobs and plunge into the new enterprise.”

The pretest on the first prototype in May 2018, which was developed with just three months of design, confirmed the results of simulation and reassured Giusto and his partners they were ready to launch the bicycle at the Eurobike show in July, 2018.

Foolproof decision

In his experience in engineering companies in the aerospace and sporting goods industries, Giusto had the opportunity to learn and appreciate Simcenter™ Nastran® software, specifically the finite element modeling, and the pre- and postprocessing environment of Simcenter Femap™ software from Siemens.

“In aerospace, Simcenter Nastran is a de facto choice and we also used Simcenter Femap in our company,” Giusto remembers. “In six years, from 2007 to 2013, I acquired advanced skills with these tools, then I was in charge of the calculation department at Continental, where nonlinear analysis is performed using totally different tools.”

As a result, when the EXEPT project began, Giusto immediately reactivated his contacts with Siemens. “We did not need comparative analysis or benchmarking,” he says. “I knew we needed Simcenter Nastran, and the quality/price tradeoff for Simcenter Femap was excellent. All I had to do was call Siemens to explain our requirements and get an adequate offer, which we accepted immediately.”

EXEPT purchased a node locked bundle that incorporates Simcenter Femap with Nastran Basic in a single, integrated solution.

The EXEPT team initially worked with pencil and paper, proceeding by increasing levels of complexity to identify the loads that acted on the structure. The next stage was the development of the first simplified FEM model.

“We made a very simple model; in aero-space, they call it Global FEM, which is made up of one-dimensional elements (bars), and we investigated the load properties of these tubes in different riding, braking and impact conditions,” Giusto explains. “This approach is very useful as it provides quick feedback for each frame section. Then we moved on to a model of isotropic material, simulating an aluminum frame with constant thick-ness, and using the information from the Global FEM, we identified where we should decrease or increase the cross sections to optimize stiffness and weight. Finally, we worked on the geometry, which was re-meshed with four modifications to increase stiffness by 27 percent. This was done by just addressing the geometry!”

The carbon challenge

After optimizing the frame stiffness, the EXEPT’s engineers focused on carbon design. To define the ply book, also known as the lamination sequence, Giusto adjusted the structure 82 times, achieving extraordinary results.

“Compared to the initial stiffness of the nonoptimized prototype, we increased torsional stiffness by 150 percent while increasing the monocoque weight by only 12 percent,” Giusto says. “In this phase, Simcenter Femap offered huge benefits in terms of time and costs, enabling us to test and analyze the layering and direction of fibers only in the virtual domain, without increasing the quantity of material used.”

EXEPT executed an in-depth comparative analysis of the performance of more than 800 stock frames (in stan-dard sizes) developed and sold in the past three to four years in order to identify and achieve high-end stiffness and weight targets.

“The first nonoptimized frame we made was the third-best in terms of stiffness out of 800 frames we analyzed,” Giusto says. “We pushed stiffness so far that we decided to reduce it afterwards for road tests, to find the best tradeoff between stiffness and rideability. You know, reducing an optimized parameter is much easier than increasing it.”

At the end of June 2018, the excellent performance of EXEPT’s custom monocoque and the reliability of Simcenter Femap simulations was confirmed and certified with tests by an independent German laboratory: The deviation between real test and simulation was below 5 percent.

Giusto highlights how using Simcenter Femap accelerated the development of new frames: “We purchased Simcenter Femap with Nastran in September 2017 and started to laminate carbon in January 2018, delivering the ply book at the end of March. With Simcenter Femap, it took less than three months for over 80 iteration cycles. Just consider the average lead time for a brand bike is two years. We launched our model in July, having started to work on it less than one year before.

“All of this was possible only thanks to simulation; we made no physical iterations. No one in the cycling industry in Italy currently has comparable tools. At the beginning we contacted the engineering departments of big brands to present our concept; they have a conventional approach because they never develop a frame from scratch. They start with the expertise of their carbon supplier and rely on external partners for the subsequent development.”

Combining software and services

Giusto has no doubts when asked to list the key benefits of Simcenter Femap: “The key success factor is postprocessing. Simcenter Femap is definitely the best of all postprocessing engines I have used in my career. Simcenter Femap with Nastran has a complete environment for linear stress analysis of composites structures, which is suitable for our tasks. The Siemens software allows us to query the model and extract as much information as possible from structures like our frames; for instance, using free-body analysis to identify the interplay of forces inside the structure.”

The clear and intuitive visual display of Simcenter Femap helps the user under-stand the model better and provides advanced reporting tools for data extraction. As a result, the model construction is intuitive, fast and lean. “When I started to work full time with Simcenter Femap and Simcenter Nastran to simulate our frames, I did not start from scratch, but still I needed some training to refresh my memory after seven years using different software. Anytime I have a problem, I just have to pick up the phone and the engineers are always ready to answer questions to my full satisfaction. They can indicate the best way to approach analysis with a limited budget while using the best-fitting software configuration for our needs, regardless of the situation.”

With the advanced FEM capabilities of Simcenter Femap, EXEPT can execute sophisticated and critical simulations, static and dynamic tests, and simulations of complex mechanical events like falling and impact.

Monash University Revolutionizes Human Anatomy Study

Product: CJP Print
Industry: Academic

Thanks to McMenamin and 3D printing, the cadaver, in all its full-scale and full-color glory, is gaining a new lease on life in medical universities around the world.

For hundreds of years, the human cadaver has been a critical tool for medical teaching, but it’s been problematic for reasons as diverse as cost, transport, storage, spiritual beliefs or just general queasiness.

Monash University in Australia might finally have the answer to a majority of these obstacles: The first commercially available kit of realistic, full-color body parts produced by a 3D printer. 

A paper from Monash University titled “The Production of Anatomical Teaching Resources Using Three-Dimensional Printing Technology” lists several advantages of using 3D printed cadavers, including “accuracy, ease of reproduction, cost-effectiveness and the avoidance of health and safety issues associated with wet fixed cadaver specimens or plastinated specimens.”

Looking inside the body

3D printed, full color hand for use by medical students

Specimens are printed by Monash using 3D Systems ColorJet Printing (CJP) technology. The ProJet series of color printers are easy to use. Most importantly, they produce models in the exact colors that Monash needs for realistic 3D printed body parts.

“The full color is essential to reproducing a combination of realistic color fidelity and ‘coding’—vessels in red or blue, nerves in yellow, for example—that is valuable in teaching,” says Paul McMenamin, director of the Centre for Human Anatomy Education (CHAE) at Monash University.

McMenamin believes his team’s simple and cost-effective anatomical kit could dramatically improve knowledge for medical students and practicing doctors. It could even contribute to better surgical outcomes for patients.

“For centuries cadavers bequested to medical schools have been used to teach students about human anatomy, a practice that continues today,” says McMenamin. “However, many medical schools report either a shortage of cadavers or find their handling and  storage too expensive as a result of strict regulations governing where cadavers can be dissected.

“We believe our kit will revolutionize learning for medical students by enabling them to look inside the body and see the muscles, tendons, ligaments and blood vessels. At the moment it can be incredibly hard for students to understand the three-dimensional form of human anatomy, and we believe this kit will make a  huge difference.”

Realizing an ‘ah ha’ moment
Marcando la diferencia en Liberia

3D printed, full-color model of the brain highlights venous arterial circulation

Cadavers printed in 3D might seem like a logical progression for the medical community, but it took technological progress in 3D printing to make it happen. The 3D Systems machines used by Monash University deliver the ability to print full-color models at relatively high speeds at a cost that provides a marked improvement over plastic models or plastination of human remains.

“I was looking for a way to produce more anatomy prosections and maybe plastinate them, but realized it would take decades and more than a half-million dollars to set up a plastination lab,” says McMenamin. “Each specimen would have to be dissected and prepared and then I would have one of that specimen.

“So we thought ‘why don’t we scan them (CT or laser), make color STL or VRML files, and print them so we can make lots of copies’. Seems obvious now, but it was sort of an ‘ah ha’ moment.”

Thanks to the 3D Systems printers, Monash University can produce parts that range from a full body to head and neck, upper limb, pelvis and lower limb, and thoracic and abdominal regions. A deal with German anatomical model makers Erler-Zimmer makes the cadavers available for purchase online, with delivery within weeks at a fraction of the cost of an embalmed or plastinated body.

The Monash series also includes anatomically correct models that would be impossible to visualize in an embalmed body – such as 3D prints of the vasculature of the brain with fine veins and arteries embedded within the skull.

Making a difference in Liberia

3D printed full color head and torso showing circulatory paths

A recent project showed just how much of a difference a 3D printed cadaver can make to a university in need — in this case, the University of Liberia’s Dagliotti Medical School. 

Inspired by a speech by Dr. Ian Crozier, a doctor who had contracted Ebola while working in Sierra Leone, McMenamin arranged for a full set of 3D prints and a set of posters of histological (a microscopic anatomy of cells and tissues) images to be sent to the school.

McMenamin also volunteered his time to teach faculty and students how to use the 3D anatomy kit. His accommodations and logistical support in Liberia were provided by ACCEL (Academic Consortium Combating Ebola in Liberia), an effort led by the University of Massachusetts Medical School and funded by Paul G. Allen’s #TackleEbola initiative.

In exchange for his donations and teaching, McMenamin has the satisfaction of helping a desperately poor and understaffed medical school provide better anatomical teaching for a new generation of Liberian doctors.

“Helping the medical school in Liberia with the support of my CHAE team and Monash University has been the best thing I have done for my fellow human beings,” says McMenamin. “The students there were just so grateful for any help that was provided. It was very humbling.”

McMenamin is likely to have more achievements in the near future about which to be humble: Using the latest 3D printing technologies from 3D Systems, his team is working on interactive, dissectible 3D anatomical reproductions that could be used to help train future surgeons.

Thanks to McMenamin and 3D printing, the cadaver, in all its full-scale and full-color glory, is gaining a new lease on life in medical universities around the world.

The ProJet MJP 3D Printer Saves Citizen Watch Time and Money

Product: MJP Printing
Industry: Consumer Products and Retail

3D Systems’ ProJet® 3500 HD 3D Printer Saves Citizen Watch Time and Money
“With the high-precision 3D printed mock-ups of our wristwatch designs, we improved quality and saved three times the installation costs of our ProJet MJP within six months.” — Mr. Naito, Product Development, Citizen Watch

Citizen Watch introduced its first wristwatch in 1931. Since then, Citizen has grown into the global brand it is today, and earned a strong reputation through innovative products like the ‘Eco Drive’, which converts light into electrical energy, and radio-controlled clocks that use standard radio waves from an atomic clock to update to the correct time within 1 second every 100,000 years.

To maintain their confidential development strategy, Citizen relies on an in-house prototyping division. Before getting their 3D printer, Citizen used NC lathes in their machining center to create mock-ups of final watch designs and assembly jigs. Because this type of machining frequently adds costs and timeline delays, however, Citizen decided to explore their options in 3D printing to reduce the time and money their development center spent on prototypes.

Going from a designer’s sketch to a prototype involves repeated design reviews and adjustments, and machining a new prototype following each suggested change takes huge amounts of time and money. Since timeline restraints limited the number of verification models that could be made, Citizen could not explore all their ideas with machining. This limitation pushed the company to investigate 3D printing as a way to give its designers more time to thoroughly review designs during early stages so they could produce better final designs.

Of the ten 3D printers Citizen evaluated, 3D Systems’ ProJet MJP (MulitJet Printer) HD printer was the only one that satisfied all of their needs. The 3D printer produces durable, high-quality plastic parts using MultiJet Printing technology, and 3D Systems’ robust, UV-curable VisiJet® materials in an assortment of colors. With a net build volume of 11.75 x 7.3 x 8 inches, the printer provides a high speed print mode and delivers high definition prints with exceptional detail precision and surface quality.

Citizen ended up using its ProJet MJP for more than prototyping, however. “Since the VisiJet material can be dyed or painted, we can quickly and easily evaluate mock-ups that have the look of a finished product,” said Mr. Naito of Citizen’s Technical Development Division. “We saved three times the installation cost of our ProJet within six months, and it has helped us spot problems with physical models that we couldn’t see with CAD alone. We can now fine-tune and improve products before following through with the final mock-up, which has led to improved quality and valuable reductions in time and cost.”

Citizen is also using their MJP printer to magnify and print tiny structural parts at three times their actual size to examine their movement and invent new assembly jigs. Before getting its 3D printer, Citizen produced one variety of assembly jig. Since getting its ProJet, however, Citizen has created new jig candidates, enabling Citizen to make the best-suited shape for the required fit in the shortest amount of time. The MJP printer has transformed a 20- to 30-day process into overnight production and has been seamlessly incorporated into Citizen’s workflow as a powerful development tool.

“If nothing else, the ProJet MJP has an extraordinarily high level of precision, which is extremely important when piecing together small watch assemblies,” said Mr. Naito. “But the ProJet has other significant advantages as well. There is minimal distortion, warping, or variation in batches, and the surface quality is superb, with fine details and sharp edges. The material is of a higher quality, stronger and less brittle than competitors’ and has easy post-processing, with the ability to melt wax away. It’s also exceptionally easy to use. Even a beginner can master it in two to three days.”

3D printed jig helps Citizen watch rapidly assemble its products

Citizen’s 3D printer went into immediate operation and is now used by many of Citizen’s designers. It has made the company’s operations less confusing, and has  inspired the watchmakers to continue looking for ways to use it beyond its research and development departments. “We want to move beyond traditional divisions and include departments that are directly involved with production and have pressing needs of their own,” Naito said.

Designing a Custom Boot for an Injured Penguin

Product: MJP Print
Industry: Medical and Forensic

Despite their tuxedoed appearance, penguins aren’t always well mannered. In the aftermath of one particular penguin scuffle among endangered African Penguins at Mystic Aquarium, Yellow/Purple (AKA “Purps”) was found to have a nonfunctional flexor tendon in her ankle. Much like an injury to a person’s Achilles heel, damage to a penguin’s flexor tendon leads to pain and difficulty in motion.

purps-aq-student-team-actgroup

Once Purps’ injury was identified, the veterinary staff at Mystic Aquarium took action with a handmade boot to immobilize, protect and support the damaged foot. Yet the animal care team knew more modern solutions were available that would not only be more durable and less cumbersome for the small bird, but also require less time than handcrafting the boot. Mystic Aquarium’s Chief Clinical Veterinarian, Dr. Jen Flower, proposed 3D printing.

The aquarium took this idea to Mystic Middle School, which had recently acquired a 3D printer through ACT Group, a local 3D Systems partner, and the rest is history. Working as a team, Mystic Aquarium, ACT Group and the middle school students came together to design and 3D print a new boot for Purps. With anatomical guidance from Mystic Aquarium’s veterinary staff and technical training from the professionals at ACT Group, the students led the design and manufacturing process using 3D Systems’ end-to-end solutions.

In a workshop facilitated by ACT Group, the students started with 3D Systems’ Geomagic Capture® 3D Scanner to scan an existing cast of Purps’ foot and then imported the data into Geomagic® Sculpt™ software where they customized the file with details like treads, hinges and closures.

3d-printed-boot-in-hand-actgroup

“The students amazed us in how quickly they picked up the software,” said Nick Gondek, Director of Additive Manufacturing and Applications Engineer, ACT Group. “It was rewarding to provide them with a technology that could keep up with their ingenuity, and to watch their creative thinking, imagination and intuitiveness lead this process.”

Once satisfied with the design, it was 3D printed on 3D Systems’ multi-material ProJet MJP 5600 3D printer. This printer enables both flexible and rigid materials to be printed and blended simultaneously at the voxel level for custom strength and elasticity. The resulting boot achieved the intended effect in durability, weight and fit, enabling Purps to walk and swim like the rest of her peers.